David Sklansky (born December 22, 1947)[1] is an American professional poker player and author. An early writer on poker strategy, he is known for his mathematical approach to the game. His key work The Theory of Poker presents fundamental principles on which much later analysis is based.

David Sklansky
Sklansky at the World Series of Poker
Nickname(s)The Mathematician
ResidenceReno, Nevada, U.S.
BornDecember 22, 1947 (1947-12-22) (age 76)
Teaneck, New Jersey, U.S.
World Series of Poker
Money finish(es)23
Highest ITM
Main Event finish
27th, 1988
World Poker Tour
Final table(s)1
Money finish(es)3
Sklansky's table on poker hands

Early years


Sklansky was born and raised in Teaneck, New Jersey, where he graduated from Teaneck High School in 1966.[2] He attended the University of Pennsylvania, but dropped out before graduation. He returned to Teaneck and passed multiple Society of Actuaries exams by the age of 20, and worked for an actuarial firm.[3]

Poker career


Sklansky is an authority[4] on gambling. He has written and contributed to fourteen books on poker, blackjack, and general gambling.

Sklansky has won three World Series of Poker bracelets, two in 1982 ($800 Mixed Doubles with Dani Kelly, and $1,000 Draw Hi) and one in 1983 ($1,000 Limit Omaha Hi). He also won the Poker By The Book invitational event on the 2004 World Poker Tour, outlasting a table full of poker legends, which included Phil Hellmuth Jr, Mike Caro, T. J. Cloutier, and Mike Sexton, and then finally overcoming Doyle Brunson.[5]

Sklansky attended the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania for a year before leaving to become a professional gambler.[6] He briefly took on a job as an actuary before embarking into poker. While on the job, he discovered a faster way to do some of the calculations and took that discovery to his boss. The boss told him he could go ahead and do it that way if he wanted but wouldn't pass on the information to the other workers. "In other words, I knew something no one else knew, but I got no recognition for it," Sklansky is quoted as saying in Al Alvarez's 1983 work The Biggest Game in Town. "In poker, if you're better than anyone else, you make immediate money. If there's something I know about the game that the other person doesn't, and if he's not willing to learn or can't understand, then I take his money."

As of 2015, his live tournament winnings exceed $1,350,000.[7] He lives in Las Vegas, Nevada.

World Series of Poker bracelets

Year Tournament Prize (US$)
1982 $1,000 Draw High $15,500
1982 $800 Mixed Doubles (with Dani Kelly) $8,800
1983 $1,000 Limit Omaha $25,500



Sklansky has authored or co-authored 14 books on gambling theory and poker. Most of his books are published by Two Plus Two Publishing. His book cover art often features hand guns. His 1976 book Hold'em Poker was the first book widely available on the subject of hold'em poker.[8] It's through these books that he popularized the concept of Sklansky Bucks (now often referred to as luck-adjusted winnings), which are used by professional poker players to this day.[9]

  • Hold'em Poker. 1976. ISBN 978-0911996678.
  • Brunson, Doyle; et al. (1979). "Seven-card stud high-low split". Super/System.[10]
  • Sklansky on Razz. 1983. ISBN 0-87019-050-4.
  • Sklansky on Poker: Including a Special Section on Tournament Play, and Sklansky on Razz. 1994. ISBN 1-880685-06-X.
  • Sklansky, David; Malmuth, Mason (1997). How to Make $100,000 a Year Gambling for a Living. ISBN 1-880685-16-7.
  • Getting the Best of It. 1997. ISBN 1-880685-04-3.
  • Poker, Gaming, & Life. 1997. ISBN 1-880685-17-5. Collection of articles that have appeared in Card Player and similar specialist magazines during the 1990s
  • Sklansky, David; Malmuth, Mason (1999). Hold'em Poker for Advanced Players, 21st Century Edition. ISBN 1-880685-22-1.
  • Sklansky, David; Malmuth, Mason; Zee, Ray (1999). Seven Card Stud for Advanced Players. ISBN 1-880685-23-X.
  • Sklansky Talks Blackjack. 1999. ISBN 1-880685-21-3.
  • The Theory of Poker
  • Tournament Poker for Advanced Players. 2002. ISBN 1-880685-28-0.
  • Miller, Ed; Sklansky, David; Malmuth, Mason (2004). Small Stakes Hold 'em: Winning Big with Expert Play. ISBN 1-880685-32-9.
  • Sklansky, David; Miller, Ed (2006). No Limit Hold 'em: Theory and Practice. ISBN 1-880685-37-X.
  • DUCY? Exploits, Advice, and Ideas of the Renowned Strategist. 2010. ISBN 978-1880685488.


  1. ^ [1] pokerolymp.de Interview, german
  2. ^ Staff. "David Sklansky", Current Biography Yearbook 2007, Volume 68. H. W. Wilson Co., 2007. Accessed August 31, 2011. "Sklansky attended Teaneck High School, graduating in 1966."
  3. ^ Schwarz, Marc. "He wrote the book on Hold 'em; Teaneck native a poker authority.", The Record (Bergen County), July 12, 2005.
  4. ^ "David Sklansky, CardsChat Interview, Still Old School and Not Afraid to Own It". CardsChat.com. Retrieved January 31, 2020.
  5. ^ WPT Poker by the Book synopsis Retrieved September 11, 2006.
  6. ^ Michael Konik Bets for Life Archived April 15, 2009, at the Wayback Machine Cigar Aficionado, May/June 1998. Retrieved September 11, 2006.
  7. ^ "David Sklansky's profile on The Hendon Mob". The Hendon Mob Poker Database. Retrieved March 30, 2018.
  8. ^ Colby, Ann (May 14, 2001). "Pythagoras, Pi and Poker". Los Angeles Times. Chris Ferguson is the new breed of player who uses math calculations, game theory and Internet resources to gain an edge over old-style, instinctive gamblers... "Hold 'Em Poker, written by Sklansky in 1976, was the first book on a type of poker that today dominates play in California card rooms..."
  9. ^ "David Sklansky's profile on Upswing Poker". Upswing Poker. May 13, 2019. Retrieved April 10, 2020.
  10. ^ "Doyle Brunson's Super System". PokerNews. Retrieved May 17, 2024.